What more can a guy do? The 13th short stop taken on average in ESPN standard drafts (after finishing 8th on ESPN's player rater among short stop in 2011) many were correct in assuming Aybar wasn't a top ten talent. While 2012 saw his minimal power drop some from 10 home runs in 2011 to 8 in 2012, and his stolen base total fall from his career high 30 to 20, Aybar was still the 12th best short stop in 2012. Aybar also posted his second highest ISO last year with a figure of .126. His 31 doubles were close to the 33 he hit in 2011 when his ISO was .142, meaning his loss of isolated slugging came from a slight decrease in home runs, which isn't shocking, and 3 fewer triples.
After starting the season as the Angel's lead off hitter, Aybar was eventually moved down to the bottom third of the order. A quick look at his April and May triple slash line shows a hitter that was struggling in all areas of his game. April - .222/.259/.272 -- May - .223/.247/.287.
From June on however, Erick Aybar was a completely different hitter, posting OPS figures of .810, .828, .907 & .833. While these figures would all be .100 points above his career OPS (.706 career), he is in the prime of his career, and has been trending in a positive direction.
A lot of attention is always directed towards a players Line Drive (LD%), Ground Ball (GB%) & Fly Ball (FB%) percentages and for good reason. A players batted ball profile, especially when compared to his career, can tell us quite a bit about which way a player is trending. A quick glance at Aybar's 2012 numbers reveal an 18.5% line drive rate, which is down from the 20.7% mark in 2011 and a 52.1% ground ball rate, which is up from the 48.0% in 2011. As always, the first place I look is his monthly splits, and right there, a 7.9 LD% - 69.8 GB% punch me in the face. We already touched on Aybar's horrible start to the season, but let's remove these data points and see what his LD% and GB% would look like. That 18.5 LD% becomes a nice 20.2%, only 0.5% off from his 2011 season. The increase in ground balls? Take away that insane 69.8 GB%, and the 48.7% we're left with, is spot on with his previous two seasons. It's always risky removing data, in this case 21 games worth, however, when the numbers are isolated in a particular month, especially at the beginning of the season, it's a mind opening exercise.
A source of much debate, I currently have Aybar penciled in as the Angel's 2-hole hitter for 2013. I know I am not alone there, but a lot can change between now and the start of the season, and my higher rank of Aybar does not hinge on him hitting 2nd (As I mentioned, Aybar was the 12th best short stop this season while spending 105 games hitting 6th or below). In theory, the more games hitting between Trout and Pujols, the better his runs and RBI's could potentially be. In 2011 when Aybar was the 8th best short stop as mentioned above, he spent 55 games hitting lead off and 35 games hitting 2nd. He just happened to post career highs in runs and RBI's. This isn't a make or break for Aybar, but something to consider as the season approaches.
So what do I except for 2013? To start, I currently have Aybar as my 12th ranked short stop in mixed leagues. As you will see in my 2013 AL Sleeper: Short Stop piece that comes out Friday, AL Only mangers will have to get creative at short stop. I currently have Aybar as the 5th short stop in this format and an obvious must own. I also prefer to tier players at each position, and would include Aybar in the 5th tier, which is also home to Alexei Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Jed Lowrie. In terms of traditional 5x5 roto scoring, my 2013 Projections: 70 runs, 9 HR, 59 RBI, 20 SB, .288 BA
While owners in snake drafts should not wait around for Aybar without a back up plan, managers who prefer to auction the player pool can set their teams up nicely waiting for Aybar as either a cost effective short stop or MI option. This strategy will provide instant value on draft day, and reliable production up the middle (Assuming I don't play in your league).